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HQ 957896

March 1, 1996

CLA-2 RR:TC:FC 957896K


TARIFF NO.: 6809.90.0000

Mr. David R. Fraser
TAB Initiatives
4118 Barnwell
Houston, Texas 77082

RE: Classification of Hand Painted Wall Plaques

Dear Sir:

In your letters of February 22 and April 4, 1995, you requested a binding ruling as to the classification of hand painted wall plaques produced by the Friar Crafts of Colchester, England. A photograph was submitted depicting two painted scenes with a description of the process to produced the art work. Our decision follows.


The photograph depicts two painted village scenes that are framed for wall hanging. A detailed carving of a scene is made from soft modeling material similar to plasticine (defined as a trademark for an oil-base modeling paste, used as a substitute for clay or wax). The scene may be selected from a photograph or a postcard. It takes approximately 5 to 15 weeks to make the carving. A silicone rubber mould is made and when set, it is removed from the carving, cleaned, and ready for use. The mould is then used to produce a large number of castings in a high density, fine grain size plaster. Each casting is then hand painted using up to 20 different color mixes.

Classification is sought under subheading 9701.10.0000, Harmonized Tariff of the United States (HTSUS), as paintings executed entirely by hand.


The issue is whether the paintings are executed entirely by hand.


Subheading 9701.10.0000, HTSUS, provides for paintings, executed entirely by hand, other than hand-painted or hand-decorated manufactured articles, with a free rate of duty.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and General Rules of Interpretation of the HTSUS. The EN for subheading 9701.10.0000, HTSUS, state, in part, as follows.

As these works must be executed entirely by hand, articles obtained wholly or partly by any other process are excluded, for example, paintings, whether or not on canvas, obtained by photomechanical processes; paintings executed by hand on an outline or on a drawing obtained by ordinary engraving or printing processes; so-called "authentic copies' of paintings, obtained by means of a number of masks or stencils, even if these copies are certified authentic by the artist.

However, copies of paintings remain in this group irrespective of their artistic value, if they are executed entirely by hand.

A large number of plaster castings are made from a mould which contain the outline of a scene that is then hand painted with artistic skill. The process is similar to the exclusions described in the EN such as a painting executed by hand on an outline or on a drawing obtained by ordinary engraving or printing processes. We conclude that the paintings as described are not executed entirely by hand.

Subheading 9701.90.0000, HTSUS, provides for collages and similar decorative plaques, with a free rate of duty. Webster's New World Dictionary of American English (Third College Edition) 1988, at page 273, defines the term "collage" as an "art form in which bits of objects such as newspaper, cloth, pressed flowers, etc., are pasted together on a surface in incongruous relationship for their symbolic or suggestive effect." This definition is similar to the EN for subheading 9701.90.000, HTSUS, which state, in part, as follows.


This group covers collages and similar decorative plaques, consisting of bits and pieces of various animal, vegetable or other materials, assembled so as to form a picture or decorative design or motif and glued or otherwise mounted on a backing, e.g., of wood, paper or textile material. The backing may be plain or it may be hand-painted or imprinted with decorative or pictorial elements which form part of the overall design. Collages range in quality from articles cheaply produced in quantity for sale as souvenirs up to products which require a high degree of craftsmanship and which may be genuine works of art.

For the purpose of this group, the term "similar decorative plaques" does not include articles consisting of a single piece of material, even if mounted or glued on a backing, which are more specifically covered by other headings of the Nomenclature such as "ornaments" of plastics, of wood, of base metal, etc. Such articles are classified in their appropriate headings (headings 44.20, 83.06, etc.) (Emphasis added.)

The articles in question, do not meet the criteria for collages as outlined above, and does not meet the term "similar decorative plaques" since the paintings are on single pieces of plaster material.

We conclude that the articles as described are painted on plaster castings made from moulds, not executed entirely by hand and are, therefore, not classified in Heading 9701, HTSUS.


Detailed village scenes on plaster castings made from moulds that are then hand painted, are classified as other (ornamental) articles of plaster, in subheading 6809.90.00, HTSUS, with a 1996 rate of duty of 3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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